I attended the Cambridge Traffic Management Area Joint Committee on the 26th of January 2009. While the County Council is the Highways Authority for Cambridge they delegate many decisions on highways to a joint committee made up of both City and County Councillors. County Councillor John Reynolds (Girton) is a member of the committee, as the lone Conservative he was to a degree acting as a representative of the ruling Conservative group on the County Council and was often a lone voice.
Gonville Place/Gresham Road Crossing Review
Mr Preston of the County Council introduced this report. He said the items for discussion had arisen primarily due to representations from the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. The report stated that the committee had decided to review the operation of the crossing 12 months after the implementation of previous changes.
Cllrs Rosenstiel and Dixon along with the Cycling campaign wanted the currently banned turns for cyclists at this junction to be removed.
Cllr Wilkins said that Cllr Huppert wanted to speak on this point, but was absent – he wanted to say that cyclists do turn right against the no-right turn signs and there is no accident record. He also supported the central box being painted red to indicate it is the area cyclists use.
Cllr Walker agreed that there was a need to enable right turns.
Cllr Rosenstiel threw a wild-card into the discussion and proposed adding a cycle-way on Gonville Place; he recounted an encounter he had had with a motorist blocking his way. The motorist was stopped in traffic too close to the curb for Cllr Rosenstiel to be able to pass. He said he had spoken to the driver and said: “you’re not from round here are you?”, the driver said he wasn’t, and Cllr Rosenstiel pointed out most cars were well away from the curb leaving room for cyclists. Cllr Rosenstiel suggested marking a cycleway on Gonville Place would alleviate this problem.
Returning to the matter under discussion Cllr Rosenstiel pointed out that there was often too much consideration here placed on cyclists going straight across the junction, from Gresham Road to Parkers’ Piece, and no appreciation of the multiplicity of routes which cyclists take. He said that we were “going to let down Cycling England” if we did not act, and act imaginatively, he referred to “the latest missive to us from the Cycling Campaign” and suggested that the committee should be even more imaginative and adventurous than what even they were proposing if cycling was really going to become a priority. I have not seen the Cycling Campaign’s representation but I suspect that they would not support Cllr Rosenstiel’s proposal of allowing cyclists to pass across the paths of crossing pedestrians – which is what Cllr Rosenstiel wanted to formally allow – saying it happened anyway with no ill-effects. Cllr Rosenstiel said that we can’t ban things on the grounds of there being a little bit of danger – he said cycling is dangerous [and should be banned] by that logic.
Councillors also questioned the fact that there was no beep for pedestrians at the crossing.
Officers replied that there was no bleep, but there was a rotating cone under the button; they also said that as there are cycles moving during the red phase of the traffic lights on Gonville Place bleeps were not allowed, as it would be misleading.
A number of councillors supported lifting the ban on a right turn on a green man, and wanted cyclists to be allowed to cross the path of pedestrians. Council officers said this could not be done, officers argued that the pedestrian crossing and the cycle crossing were in fact two independent crossings. Councillors did not accept this, pointing to the fact they operated to the same timings.
Cllr Rosenstiel added a further new request – for more dropped curbs, to make it easier to turn right into Gresham Street from Gonville Place on a bike, he said he wanted more dropped curbs in other places to saying “it is not as easy to do a ninety degree turn on the spot on a bike as it is when walking”. Officers indulged him agreeing to consider his proposals.
The committee voted (7:1, with Cllr Reynolds dissenting) in-favour of lifting the currently banned turns for cyclists at this junction, and painting a red box on the road. As with other decisions made at the meeting it will be reviewed by the County Council’s Cabinet because it is making a proposal contrary to County Council policy.
Members of the committee noted the no-right turn for cyclists at Fair Street/Maid’s cause-way was a similar situation to this one, and was again largely ignored (personally I had never considered the no-right turn applied to cyclists on the cycle-path there).